10 Frequently Asked Questions About Facebook Timeline Promotions
Now that Facebook has changed the guidelines for promotions run on their platform, it is fairly simple to run a contest or sweepstakes without a third-party application. This means you can run a few basic sweepstakes or contests (for example, a “Caption This Photo!”Contest or a “Like This Post” Sweepstakes) on your business timeline page, and all you need are official rules and prizes to give away.
But we are still getting lots of questions about what can and can’t be done to run a simple Like or Comment or Caption contest on Facebook.
1. What can I ask people to do to enter?
The only allowable, trackable methods of entry allowed by Facebook at this time are to ask fans to 1) post something to your business page, 2) like or comment or caption on something you post on your business page, or 3) message your business page.
2. Can I just ask them to like my page to enter?
Unfortunately, the way that Facebook privacy settings currently work, you can’t extract a list of people who have liked your business page. This means that you may have a whole lot of people who have liked your page, but you won’t be able to download that list of who all those people are, and when they liked the page, in order to select a winner and notify them. Your fans must interact with your posts and generate activity in order to be tracked through the Facebook API. So while asking people to “Like” your page in order to enter your app promotion where you collect additional information still works, simply asking people to like your page and automatically be entered does not.
3. Can you ask a user to post something to their personal page as an entry?
No. Facebook explicitly says in the promotion guidelines that you cannot ask people to post or share content to their personal pages as a form of entry. This means that you can’t ask a user to post a photo or status update using hashtags in order to enter. Facebook’s explanation for this is:
“We want to make sure that people continue to post authentic, high quality content to their Facebook Timelines to stay better connected with the people they care about.
There are technical reasons for conﬁning the administration of the promotion to either a Page or in an app. For example, because people can choose to limit the visibility of the content they put on Facebook to only themselves, friends, or to a custom group of people, Pages won’t have the ability to access all of the entries that people post on their own Timelines unless these entries are public. We may explore enabling this in the future, but to ensure a good experience for administrators of promotions and prospective entrants to a promotion, we are limiting the administration of promotions on Facebook to Pages and within apps at this time.” (For more see https://fbcdn-dragon-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/851577_158705844322839_2031667568_n.pdf)
4. How do you select a winner?
You are responsible for randomly selecting a winner (for a Sweepstakes), or for documenting a judging process to select a winner based on pre-set criteria as defined in the Official Rules (for a Contest). Your entries can be monitored from your Facebook account or pulled into a database, using the Facebook API or by cutting and pasting manually. We recommend using the Facebook API to pull entries into a database which can make sorting and reviewing entries a much more manageable process. Marden-Kane has a tool available to our clients which pulls entries from the Facebook API for easy sorting, moderation and winner selection. If you are interested in finding out more about our tool, contact us.
5. Does EVERY timeline promotion need official rules?
Yes. We get this question all the time. Even if you are ONLY giving away a hat and ONLY have 5 fans and are ONLY asking people to like your brand photo to be entered, you still need to have rules to govern the promotion. The simpler the promotion, the simpler your rules will probably be – but don’t skip this step or you will be breaking the law – not just Facebook guidelines. ( If you need rules you can contact Marden-Kane for help!)
6. Where do you put the rules?
We recommend posting rules on a page on your main web site and then linking to them from your call to action post. If you don’t have a web site where you can easily post them, you can always post them in a Facebook note and then link to the note.
7. How do I contact winners?
The new Facebook promotion guidelines allow you to contact winners directly through the Facebook messaging system. So once you have a potential winner, you can simply tag them in a comment to message your brand on the Facebook, and then message them back to discuss prize details. (Note: brands cannot initiate Facebook messages so tagging your potential winners is crucial. See more for steps to contacting social winners here.)
8. What if I get rude comments on my comment contest?
Marden-Kane always recommends you moderate posts to your page! If you see a rude comment you can address it with the community or hide it, depending on your social policy. This is one of the reasons you need official rules to govern your promotion, since rules should include a clause that allows you to disqualify any entries that are deemed inappropriate.
9. How do I get people to share the contest with their friends?
You can ask in your call to action that people tell their friends or share your post, but you can’t make it a requirement for entry. Facebook wants people to share things authentically. This also means that they can’t get additional entries for sharing your post.
10. But everyone else is doing it this way! Why can’t we?
There were many, many promotions on Facebook that did not follow Facebook guidelines before the promotion guidelines changed, and there are still a good many out there that don’t do it according to the new policy. However, Facebook can (and has!) shut down business pages for not following guidelines and you don’t want to be one of them!
If you have any other questions or comments we would love to hear them!
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